US President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort will cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian election meddling as part of a plea deal, prosecutors told a federal court in Washington on Friday.
Manafort, 69, also pleaded guilty to two criminal counts, becoming the most prominent former Trump campaign official to plead guilty in Mueller’s investigation.
The probe has cast a shadow over the Republican’s presidency and Manafort’s decision to cooperate deals a setback to Trump ahead of congressional elections on Nov. 6.
A longtime Republican operative, Manafort made millions of dollars working for pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians before taking an unpaid position with Trump’s campaign for five months.
He led the campaign in mid-2016 when Trump was selected as the Republican presidential nominee at the party convention.
Moscow has denied interfering in the 2016 election and Trump has said there was no collusion.
The White House said on Friday that President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager’s decision to plead guilty to two criminal counts and to cooperate with a probe into Russian election meddling had nothing to do with Trump’s 2016 victory.
“This had absolutely nothing to do with the president or his victorious 2016 presidential campaign,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said. “It is totally unrelated.”
Manafort on Friday pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice brought by Mueller’s team.